Our fave healthy reads!

By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC

The stack of books on my night stand just keeps growing and growing with all these awesome wellness books that I just can’t get enough of!  From creating miracles in your life, and acting in alignment with how you want to feel, to eating for a perfect period, and having a super healthy, natural pregnancy… There’s so much to choose from!

Here’s what I’m reading now:

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The Organic Beauty Book List 2010

There is a whole lot of information out there about health, beauty, and food, some of it a little more contradictory that we would like.  Some advocate local over organic produce, some the other way around; some say there is no way to be healthy and keep meat in your diet, others say the only an omnivore can be truly healthy; some push a hard line DIY lifestyle as the only way to keep your body and home safe and toxin free, others say everything in moderation.  So how do we figure out which advice to follow?

My philosophy has always been to soak up as much knowledge as possible, and use common sense and a knowledge of one’s self and one’s own habits to figure out what works best.  There is no universal cure-all or answer that will work for everyone.  That said, there have definitely been some books that have been instrumental in my figuring out where to be strict and where to let things slide, as well as helping to create a general knowledge base that informs my decisions of what to put in, on, and around my body.  Check out a few of these titles, or go the distance and read ’em all to make yourself a fabulously educated Organic Beauty!

Food and Farming:

The Organic Beauty Book ListAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver provides a really interesting look into a family’s decision to try to live as total locavores, growing much of their food on their own fledgling farm and purchasing the rest from nearby farmers.  Now, I’m not one to glorify the Green Acres life — farm living is not the life for me — but this book provided a really insightful look into a whole slew of topics, ranging from locavorism to environmentalism, vegetarianism to the benefit of the small family farm.  It is a super well written narrative that will forever change how you view your local Greenmarket.  

In his followup to the vital read, The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan came out with two more absolutely essential books, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, and its companion text Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.  Together, these books really outline what we should and should not be eating, and more importantly, WHY.  Pollan goes a step further than The Omnivores Dilemma by taking us out of the realm of industrial agriculture, and into the grocery store, an area which is much more familiar.  Here, he debunks quick food fixes that are being touted as easy alternatives to the preparation of more time consuming whole foods, and really gets to the bottom of what it means to eat healthy.  While In Defense of Food can get really technical, and goes into a lot of detail about what we should and should not be eating, Food Rules offers a simple pocket guide that, in my opinion, should be a veritable bible for grocery shopping Americans.  The book advocates a mostly plant-based, whole foods diet, and is full of quippy little mantras (“the whiter the bread, the quicker you’ll be dead”) that really healthy eating a no-brainer. Truly, these are both must-reads.

Diet and Health:

The Organic Beauty Book ListThe Life Force Diet, by Michelle Schoffro Cook, completely changed my life when it came to dieting and health.  After many years of struggling with stomach problems, food sensitivities, and other health problems, this book really shed light on how I was shooting myself in the foot with what I was eating and set me on an amazing path to total wellness.  Cook does everything from explaining how and why certain foods make us feel the way we do, to completely outlining a new way to think about food.  This is less of a diet and more of a total overhaul of how you eat that will last you for the rest of your life.  By eating the enzyme-rich foods she outlines, and taking the right supplements, I starting looking and feeling the best I ever have in my life!  The foods she advocates bring on mental clarity, radiant beauty, energy, and a forever slim physique. The ULTIMATE guide to being an Organic  Beauty!

The Organic Beauty Book ListI’m not going to lie.. I have a major crush on Alicia Silverstone.  In addition to being supremely adorable, she has used her fame to work tirelessly for animal rights and the environment, and she just seems like an absolute sweetheart.  So when I saw that she was coming out with a diet and lifestyle book, I had to have it, regardless of what it said.  So imagine my glee when I opened up The Kind Diet and found a well-written, funny and educational book that was impossible to put down!  In addition to personal anecdotes and beauty tips, this book talks a lot about the environmental, ecological, and ethical justifications for a vegan diet, but in a way that is never preachy or didactic.  She writes about how said diet improves your health, well-being, and beauty, and makes the transition so easy for those new to it!  Now I am not a strict vegan, but I use her recipes and tips from this book ALL the time and would recommend it to anyone who wants to look and feel.. well, kind of like Alicia Silverstone!
The Organic Beauty Book ListIf there was ever a stylistic opposite to The Kind Diet and its sweet, supportive tone, it would be the Skinny Bitch series by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.  The hilarious, acid-tongued girls have an entirely different take on getting you to eat better and look great… basically “do you want to stop being fat, ugly, and pimpled?  Then quit eating disgusting, rotting animal flesh and breast milk and start caring about what you put in your body!”… in a nutshell.  They balance scientific evidence and research with the most hilarious tough-love, no nonsense voice that really makes you see the insanity in American eating practices.  Though there is definitely an animal rights bent, there is none of the crunchy, granola, hippy aesthetic that turns off so many glam girls to the message.  And the recipes are awesome, realistic, and easy.  I absolutely LOVE these two!  Check out Skinny Bitch in the Kitch for great recipes, Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven for expecting mothers, and Skinny Bastard for the men in your life.
 Beauty and Body:
The Organic Beauty Book ListI went on a frantic clean-out spree after I read No More Dirty Looks: The Truth About Your Beauty Products.  It is a really scary and enlightening look into what terrible things go into the beauty products most of us use every day. The knowledge gleaned from this book is a major influence in my starting this blog, and is really vital for everyone who has ever set foot in a salon or used store bought beauty products.  In addition to identifying red flags and products to keep outside a 10 mile radius of your home, they share the results of tons of research and product testing to bring you recommendations of the most safe and effective products on the market, as well as lots of great homemade remedies made from ingredients you probably already own!
The Organic Beauty Book ListI know this isn’t a book, exactly, though it does come with a very informative pamphlet of guidelines for ultimate health and beauty, but this is SUCH a great series that is so in line with the Organic Beauty philosophy that I just had to recommend it.  Holistic health and fitness guide, Rainbeau Mars (yes, her real name) has been my absolute favorite yoga instructor for some time, and I’ve only ever seen her on her DVDs!  Her Yoga for Beauty series is comprised of two DVDs, AM and PM, that really focus on detoxifying, cleansing, beautifying and balancing yoga postures.  Her 40 Disciplines for Beauty are loosely based in the Ayurvedic tradition, and provide a lot of useful tips on caring for your body and natural living.  A must for every Organic Beauty!